Madhuri Dixit says there were 'few' good roles for women in Bollywood earlier: 'So many talented women, such few roles'

Published on Oct 04, 2022 02:05 PM IST

Madhuri Dixit and her Maja Ma co-stars open up about the movie, the film’s dance number and why there are fewer challenging roles for women in Bollywood.

Madhuri Dixit in a still from Maja Ma, her first-ever direct-to-OTT film.
Madhuri Dixit in a still from Maja Ma, her first-ever direct-to-OTT film.

Madhuri Dixit is returning to films with the upcoming family entertainer Maja Ma. The film, which also stars Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Barkha Singh, and Srishti Shrivastava, is all set to release. The cast of the film, including Madhuri, sat down for a chat with Hindustan Times, to speak about the experience of working on it, Madhuri’s dance, and why strong female characters are so few in the film industry. Also read: Karan Johar reviews Madhuri Dixit’s Maja Ma, says he is obsessed

Maja Ma sees Madhuri play Pallavi Patel, a middle-class woman whose life is turned upside down due to a secret she kept hidden. The actor recently played another character with a secret past in her Netlfix show The Fame Game. Talking about the prevalence of complex, layered female characters in films today, Madhuri says, “These kinds of roles are being written now. And when people offer me these, it just excites me. They are such layered characters that there is so much to do. The more complex the character, the more challenging it is, which is what I enjoy about these roles. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing them because that’s what every artiste is looking for. When you are presented with your dream, that’s what you really want to sink your teeth into. Every day when I wake up in the morning and say I’m shooting for this film, it’s exciting.”

Ask her if this change of challenging roles for female leads has come too late and the actor promptly replies, “It’s never too late. It’s a welcome thing that is happening because there is so much talent in the country.” Madhuri adds that the situation has changed from how it was earlier when there were a handful of good roles written for women. She says, “There were so many talented women and so few roles going around. Now that they are being written, they are giving all these artistes a chance to show what they can do with all these roles. It’s an amazing time for women in cinema right now.”

Madhuri Dixit with Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Barkha Singh, and Srishti Shrivastava in the official poster of Maja Ma.
Madhuri Dixit with Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Barkha Singh, and Srishti Shrivastava in the official poster of Maja Ma.

The film, set in the festive period, features a lot of somg and dance, particularly a garba number that sees Madhuri shake a leg with her co-stars, who all admit that it was pretty daunting to do so. “Nerve-wracking,” says Ritwik Bhowmik--Madhuri’s on-screen son – when asked to describe his experience of dancing with Madhuri. Barkha Singh, who plays Ritwik’s love interest in the film, adds, “I am dancing for a part of the song based on the story. But even for that part, I remember being so nervous because I am not a trained dancer. I didn’t want to be the cause for ma’am and everyone else to have to redo a thing. I reached an hour-and-a-half before my call time because I had to rehearse in costume. I was being told to get ready and not dance in the sunlight. But I said I need to get this right. I even got the choreographer to work with me for some time. It was that big a deal for me.”

Madhuri is one of the most accomplished dancers that Bollywood has seen. And yet, Maja Ma gave her the opportunity to do something new – try her hand at garba for the first time. She admits she was nervous about it. “There are still nerves because there are lot of expectations,” she says, adding, “With expectations, come responsibilities. You have to make sure you give it your best shot and you give the style as much pizzazz there is and learn the right way of doing it. People out there who do garba every season, they work really hard for their performances. Every style is so different in India. So, I have to make very sure to have that lachak (flexibility) and style that is needed.”

Madhuri performing garba Dixit in Maja Ma's song Boom Padi.
Madhuri performing garba Dixit in Maja Ma's song Boom Padi.

Srishti Shrivastava plays Madhuri’s daughter Tara in the film. The actor, a popular face on YouTube and web shows, is now finding her footing in mainstream Hindi cinema as well. Talking about her journey so far, the actor says, “I think people get where I am coming from, which is theatre and a lot of auditions and work. It started from a very tiny role to better meatier roles. Luckily, I have worked with amazing directors, who have given me the space to perform and find the character according to me. So, I never felt out of place anywhere.”

Ritwik says what made him say yes to the film was the character and, of course, the cast. “It’s a traditional hero type role with more nuances, I’d say. Honestly, there was no choice for me to say because I really wanted to be a part of this film. I’m extremely grateful. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Maja Ma, directed by Anand Tiwari, releases on Prime Video on October 7. It marks Madhuri’s return to films for the first time since Kalank three years ago and her first big screen lead role since Gulaab Gang back in 2014.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Abhimanyu Mathur is an entertainment journalist with Hindustan Times. He writes about cinema, TV, and OTT, churning out interviews, reviews, and good old news stories.

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